Digital PlanetAuthor: BBC World Service
07 Jul 2022

Digital Planet

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Technological and digital news from around the world.

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    Deepfake calls to European mayors?

    On June 24th, the mayor of Berlin thought she was on a video call with the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko. The call, however, was fake. The head of the Deutsche Welle’s fact-checking team Joscha Weber tells Gareth what happened, how the mayors of Vienna and Madrid were deceived by similar fake calls, and how a Russian comedy duo claims to be behind it all. The video call was initially thought to be a deepfake, but a later analysis by German media suggests that it may have been a shallowfake instead. What do these two terms mean and what is the difference between them? We have deepfake experts Hany Farid and Hao Li in the studio to answer this question, explain how deepfakes are created, and discuss the wider issues that they pose. India’s great VPN exit In late April, the Indian government decided to enact new cybersecurity rules that include forcing virtual private network (VPN) providers to keep users’ data such as names, contact numbers, and IP addresses for a period of five years. VPN companies in India have sharply criticised the ruling, and some have already exited and pulled their servers out of the country. India has now given VPN providers another three months to comply with the new rules. Expert contributor Bill Thompson tells Gareth what VPNs are, why these new rules conflict with their premise, and what this could mean for privacy and the tech sector in India. Can AI solve prostate cancer? In a recent machine learning competition, developers used a new prostate biopsy dataset to train artificial intelligence algorithms to diagnose and grade tumours. Gareth speaks to Ph.D. student Nita Mulliqi about the difficulties of using AI in prostate cancer grading and how a dataset from diverse clinical settings is needed to create effective algorithms. We also hear from a consultant for the WHO, Rohit Malpani, about the limitations of applying machine learning applications in healthcare in low- and middle-income countries. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from … Studio Manager: Michael Millham Producer: Florian Bohr (Image: Vitali Klitschko. Credit: Getty Images)

  • Posted on 05 Jul 2022

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    What’s the deal with the metaverse?

    So what is the metaverse really? Following a montage of BBC World Service listeners’ responses and opinions, contributing expert Ghislaine Boddington will shed light on this question. As it turns out, while there are current examples of virtual worlds, the metaverse is still being formed. Predicting exactly what it will be like is harder than one might think. An afternoon in Altspace What does it feel like to be in the metaverse? Reporter Chris Berrow strapped on his VR headset and spent some time in AltspaceVR to find out. From holding a virtual cat to doing yoga class, his experience turned out to be stranger than he had anticipated. Future implications If the metaverse becomes as popular as some predict, where are we headed? In a live discussion with tech futurist and metaverse expert Cathy Hackl, video game writer Colin Harvey, and our very own Ghislaine Boddington, we discuss the big issues on the horizon. Who will be creating it and who will have access? Could this lead to harvesting of biometric data? Will all of us actually use the metaverse? The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington. Studio Manager: Sue Maillot Producer: Florian Bohr (Image: Looking through virtual reality glasses into the metaverse world. Credit: Cemile Bingo l/ Getty Images)

  • Posted on 28 Jun 2022

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    Japan tackles online insults

    Increased punishment for online insults in Japan Japan has taken the first steps to make online insults punishable by up to one year in prison. This new legislation comes two years after the suicide of Japanese reality TV star and professional wrestler Hana Kimura. BBC reporter Mariko Oi tells us how this new legislation came to be and what it means, and legal expert Dr. Sanae Fujita and cyberpsychologist Dr. Nicola Fox Hamilton talk to Gareth about why online abuse occurs so frequently, what ways we can tackle it, and whether this new law is fit for purpose. 27 years of Internet Explorer After almost three decades, Microsoft has decided to retire the Internet Explorer (sort of). Contributing expert Bill Thompson takes us on a journey to the early days and back again. What has changed since the once-popular browser’s inception? Smart lipstick Brazilian cosmetics company Grupo Boticario and centre for innovation CESAR are developing 'O Batom Inteligente' – 'the smart lipstick'. The device will use artificial intelligence to apply lipstick automatically. Reporter Fern Lulham spoke to the creators of the device, and explains to Gareth how applying lipstick is a much harder feat to accomplish than one might think, and what it could mean for people with disabilities. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson. Studio Manager: Steve Greenwood Producer: Florian Bohr

  • Posted on 21 Jun 2022

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    Archiving music in glass

    ‘Project Silica’ uses ultrafast laser optics and machine learning to utilise glass as a storage device. The fused silica glass is fully resilient to electromagnetic pulses (EMP) and to the most challenging environmental conditions, ensuring the data written into it is not degraded. In this proof of concept for the Global Music Vault in Svalbard, this glass platter will have a selection of some of the most important music data and files on it. Gareth talks to Ant Rowstron, who has been working on the technology at Microsoft, and Beatie Wolfe, a musician whose music has been included in the data storage proof of concept. Data-driven city planning Barcelona is developing a digital twin of its city to aid with city management decisions. The city is currently at the initial stage of the project, designed to produce simulations of different planning scenarios to create more data-driven decisions. Gareth chats to Deputy Mayor of Barcelona Laia Bonet and Patricio Reyes, a researcher at the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre, about the potential uses of simulations and how digital twins could improve city planning in the future. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington. Studio Manager: Steve Greenwood Producer: Hannah Fisher Photo: Music stored in fused silica glass Credit: Global Music Vault

  • Posted on 14 Jun 2022

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    Community Networks: Connecting the unconnected

    Across the North American continent, there is a stark difference in the availability of internet to different communities. Tribal lands are typically remote, rural and rugged landscapes, and often have very patchy, or non-existent internet connectivity. Dr Traci Morris explains why such a digital divide exists and how tribes are working together, both within their communities and with each other, to create and gain access to communications networks. Digital Deras connecting farmers in rural Pakistan In rural Punjab in Pakistan, farmers and villagers gather in places called ‘deras’ to socialise, drink tea and coffee and discuss their farms. But one project has created a community network to transform one of these deras to have digital facilities – a ‘digital dera’. Farmers use this digital dera to access crucial weather forecasts and other information to help them manage their farms more efficiently. It also helps them battle the impact of climate change, as the crop cycles change due to shifting weather patterns. Founders of the project Fouad Bajwa and Aamer Hayat speak to Gareth about the impact of the digital dera project on the farming community. Offline internet in Cuba Cuba is one of the least digitally connected countries in the Western hemisphere. This is due to the US trade embargo but also poor internet infrastructure and a tight control of its own government on flow of information. Although accessing digital technologies is getting better, for ordinary Cubans going online is still a challenge. The internet connection is slow, unreliable and prohibitively expensive. To combat this, they have created an offline underground internet called ‘El Paquete Semanal’ or ‘Weekly Package’ – it is a one terabyte collection of eclectic material of movies, tv series, sport and music, while turning a blind eye to copyright. Reporter Snezana Curcic visited to learn more about this Cuban alternative to broadband internet. Presenter: Gareth Mitchell With expert commentary from Bill Thompson Producer: Hannah Fisher Studio Manager: Jackie Margerum (Photo: 5G data stream running through a rural village. Credit: Huber & Starke/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

  • Posted on 07 Jun 2022

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